Sunday, May 19, 2024

Activision Stock Higher As Call of Duty Powers Q3 Earnings Beat; Say $69 Billion Microsoft Deal Still On Track

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“We continue to expect that our (takeover) transaction will close in Microsoft’s current fiscal year ending June 2023,” said CEO Bobby Kotick.

Activision Blizzard  (ATVI)  posted stronger-than-expected third quarter earnings Monday and said its planned $69 billion takeover by Microsoft  (MSFT)  is expected to be completed by the middle of next year. 

Activision said GAAP earnings for the three months ending in September were pegged at 55 cents per share, down 33% from the same period last year but topping Street consensus forecast of 50 cents per share. Group adjusted revenues, which exclude deferrals, fell 7.7% to $1.735 billion, but were just ahead of analysts’ estimates of a $1.694 billion tally. In game net bookings rose 13.33% to $1.36 billion, Activision said. 

“Our games are the result of passion and excellence. This comes from an environment that fosters inspiration, creativity, and an unwavering commitment to develop and support our talent,” said CEO Bobby Kotick. “Our employees’ dedication and teamwork are at the heart of an extraordinary workplace that enables the magic embodied in our games.

“We look forward to continuing to release epic entertainment in service of our global community of players as a part of Microsoft, one of the world’s most admired companies,” he added. “We continue to expect that our transaction will close in Microsoft’s current fiscal year ending June 2023.”

Activision shares were marked 0.3% higher in after-hours trading immediately following the earnings release to indicate a Tuesday opening bell price of $71.30 each.

The New York Post reported Sunday that some investors are worried the Microsoft’s efforts to win regulatory approval for the deal, which was first unveiled earlier this year, have fallen short of Activision’s expectations.

At issue is the future of Call of Duty, the group’s most-valuable gaming franchise, which is currently available on Sony’s PlayStation console. For Microsoft’s deal to work, the Post reported, it would likely need to keep the game exclusively on its XBox platform, but that would limit customer choice, and likely raise prices, pushing regulators in the U.K, the European Union and the United States — all of which are looking into the deal — to either reject it or seek promises that the games will be freely available. 

Activision said Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II was the first of its flagship franchise to top the $1 billion sell-through mark, with hours played in the first 10 days more than 40% above the prior franchise record.

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